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Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Gómez Díaz, J. A., A. Lira-Noriega, and F. Villalobos. 2023. Expanding protected areas in a Neotropical hotspot. International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology: 1–15.

The region of central Veracruz is considered a biodiversity hotspot due to its high species richness and environmental heterogeneity, but only 2% of this region is currently protected. This study aimed to assess the current protected area system’s effectiveness and to identify priority conservation areas for expanding the existing protected area system. We used the distribution models of 1186 species from three kingdoms (Animalia, Plantae, and Fungi) together with ZONATION software, a conservation planning tool, to determine areas that could help expand the current network of protected areas. We applied three different parametrizations (including only species, using the boundary quality penalty, and using corridor connectivity). We found that protecting an additional 15% of the area would increase, between 16.2% and 19.3%, the protection of the distribution area of all species. We propose that the regions with a consensus of the three parametrizations should be declared as new protected areas to expand 374 km2 to the 216 km2 already protected. Doing so would double the protected surface in central Veracruz. The priority areas identified in this study have more species richness, carbon stock values, natural vegetation cover, and less human impact index than the existing protected areas. If our identified priority areas are declared protected, we could expect a future recovery of endangered species populations for Veracruz. The proposed new protected areas are planned and designed as corridors connecting currently isolated protected areas to promote biodiversity protection.

Gainsbury, A. M., E. G. Santos, and H. Wiederhecker. 2022. Does urbanization impact terrestrial vertebrate ectotherms across a biodiversity hotspot? Science of The Total Environment 835: 155446.

Urbanization is increasing at an alarming rate altering biodiversity. As urban areas sprawl, it is vital to understand the effects of urbanization on biodiversity. Florida is ideal for this research; it has many reptile species and has experienced multiple anthropogenic impacts. Herein, we aim to evaluate human impacts on registered reptile richness across an urbanization gradient in Florida. The expectation is that highly urbanized areas would harbor a lower number of species. To represent urbanization, we used Venter et al. (2016) human footprint index. We downloaded georeferenced occurrence records from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility to collate species richness. We ran generalized linear regressions controlling for spatial autocorrelation structure to test the association between urbanization and reptile records across Florida. We found a positive association between urbanization and registered reptiles across Florida for total and non-native species richness; however, a lack of association occurred for native species. We performed rarefaction curves due to an inherent bias of citizen science data. The positive association was supported for non-native reptile species richness with greater species richness located at urban centers. Interestingly, total and native species richness were largest at low as well as moderate levels of urbanization. Thus, moderately urbanized areas may have the potential to harbor a similar number of reptile species compared to areas with low urbanization. Nevertheless, a difference exists in sample completeness between the urbanization categories. Thus, a more systematic monitoring of reptile species across an urbanization gradient, not only focusing on urban and wild areas but also including moderate levels of urbanization, is needed to provide informed conservation strategies for urban development planning. Advances in environmental sensors, environmental DNA, and citizen science outreach are necessary to implement if we are to effectively monitor biodiversity at the accelerated rate of urbanization.

Espindola, S., E. Vázquez‐Domínguez, M. Nakamura, L. Osorio‐Olvera, E. Martínez‐Meyer, E. A. Myers, I. Overcast, et al. 2022. Complex genetic patterns and distribution limits mediated by native congeners of the worldwide invasive red‐eared slider turtle. Molecular Ecology 31: 1766–1782.

Non-native (invasive) species offer a unique opportunity to study the geographical distribution and range limits of species, wherein the evolutionary change driven by interspecific interactions between native and non-native closely related species is a key component. The red-eared slider turtle, Tra…

Chollett, I., and D. R. Robertson. 2020. Comparing biodiversity databases: Greater Caribbean reef fishes as a case study. Fish and Fisheries 21: 1195–1212.

There is a widespread need for reliable biodiversity databases for science and conservation. Among the many public databases available, we lack guidance as to how their data quality varies. Here, we compare species distribution data for a well known regional reef fish fauna extracted from five globa…

Smith, J. A., A. L. Benson, Y. Chen, S. A. Yamada, and M. C. Mims. 2020. The power, potential, and pitfalls of open access biodiversity data in range size assessments: Lessons from the fishes. Ecological Indicators 110: 105896.

Geographic rarity is a driver of a species’ intrinsic risk of extinction. It encompasses multiple key components including range size, which is one of the most commonly measured estimates of geographic rarity. Range size estimates are often used to prioritize conservation efforts when there are mult…

Karger, D. N., M. Kessler, O. Conrad, P. Weigelt, H. Kreft, C. König, and N. E. Zimmermann. 2019. Why tree lines are lower on islands—Climatic and biogeographic effects hold the answer J. Grytnes [ed.],. Global Ecology and Biogeography 28: 839–850.

Aim: To determine the global position of tree line isotherms, compare it with observed local tree limits on islands and mainlands, and disentangle the potential drivers of a difference between tree line and local tree limit. Location: Global. Time period: 1979–2013. Major taxa studied: Trees. Method…